Sun, Feb 05, 2012 - Page 10 News List

US shares finish week at robust levels

AFP, NEW YORK

US shares finished a strong week at their best levels since the start of the year, driven by promising economic data that trumped a mixed batch of company reports as the earnings season neared its end.

Unexpectedly strong job creation numbers for last month released on Friday gave a solid bump to the markets on the last day of the week, while the unending struggle in Europe for a solution to the Greek crisis seemed to bother traders less than in recent weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week up 1.59 percent at 12,862.23, its best close since May 19, 2008, when it was falling at the beginning of the US financial crisis.

The broad-based S&P 500 was, at 1,344.90, just shy of its 52-week high of 1,370.58. It gained 2.17 percent in the week.

The NASDAQ reached its best level in 11 years, up 3.16 percent for the week to 2,905.66.

The job numbers were supported by other strong data on the manufacturing and service sectors last month, though the message from the Fed and government authorities remains that growth will only be middling this year.

“Pessimism is currently running deep for most economic forecasters,” Jeffrey Rosen of Briefing.com said. “Yet, for all of the weakness that is expected to play out through 2013, we see more upside potential than downside risk.”

Facebook splashed the big market news of the week when it filed for an initial public offering aimed at raising at least US$5 billion.

The flotation, which might not come for several weeks, generated some fervor in the tech sector, with Zynga, which provides social games that are played on Facebook, ending up 33.2 percent for the week.

Disc drive maker Seagate put on 27.2 percent for the week after strong fourth-quarter earnings.

Amazon fell sharply on Wednesday after its fourth-quarter earnings disappointed, but it regained some ground to end the week down 3.9 percent.

While there was some new bullishness about the economy, analysts were more cautious with the markets going forth.

Even brushing aside possible turbulence from the eurozone, there was some belief that stock prices were beginning to outpace earnings growth.

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